Travel is about seeing exotic destinations and experiencing new cultures, which is why people travel far for amazing experiences. For people in the UK, that doesn't normally mean Northern Ireland.
But sometimes, short trips can leave the most significant impact – 67% of travelers plan to travel 1-6 hours from home for their next trip.
Getting people to consider adventuring in a small nation that’s accessible was a challenge.
Our mission was therefore two-fold.
First, we had to redefine the perception of short breaks and change the mindset of travelers who were planning their next trip to consider going to places closer to home - and appreciate crossing the sea for a short vacation.
Secondly, we had to convince them to book a trip to Northern Ireland to explore their hidden treasures.
Despite Northern Ireland being less expensive and more accessible than longer travel, the challenge was on to prove its value as a holiday destination.
The typical audience to visit Northern Ireland is ages 35 and over, educated, affluent and culturally curious. We also understood that they sought personalized, unique experiences and craved a personal connection to destinations. We found that 6/10 people want more published travel content, across a variety of formats. Travelers are also 71% more likely to have consumed podcast content than the average person, adding a new dimension to content opportunities.
Our goal was therefore to deliver a campaign that could provide this audience with the content they desired, resulting in bookings to Northern Ireland.
Our strategy was to develop a personal connection between our audience and Northern Ireland, and deliver innovative and memorable storytelling to them via content that felt conversational.
To make this happen, Tripadvisor - the world’s largest travel platform assisting 463+ million travelers monthly - was the perfect companion to embark with on this adventure.
With 70% of its community prioritizing new experiences and seeing new things for their next vacation, we’d make travel to Northern Ireland accessible to all…. simply by telling them it’s closer than you think.
We leveraged original local experiences, promoted by local talent and used powerful content to sell the idea of traveling to places that were close to home and easy to access.
And we shared these unique specific experiences with people through an integrated, multi-dimensional approach to content with an innovative podcast experience at its heart. This was the first time in Tripadvisor’s history that a podcast has taken center stage!
Working with leading podcast hosting platform Acast – with 430 million monthly listens – we collaborated with existing podcasts that reached our target demographics to integrate Northern Ireland content, allowing us to develop an intimate connection with our audience.
An organic and paid content strategy expanded our reach, with influencer content deepening our storytelling.
We took our strategy to market by talking to travelers in the places they were most receptive.
First, we customized a Northern Ireland tourism page on Tripadvisor to feature inspiring content, and highlighted places to go and things to see. Crafted using Tripadvisor data and Tourism Ireland insight, we surfaced these experiences and pushed any and all popular sights mentioned throughout the campaign to prominent positions on the destination page.
From the most charming and modern hotels, to the can’t miss restaurants, to the signature experiences, we equipped people with the information they needed for a memorable visit.
Paid and native ads appeared across the most impactful locations, directing people to our exclusive content.
We recruited influential travel blogger and radio host, Paulo Ross, to raise awareness and drive traffic. With his engaged Northern Irish audience and substantial UK following across his content, his presenter background was perfect for our campaign which was heroed on podcasts.
Paulo showed people the best coastal views and shared a Giant’s Causeway road trip itinerary for anyone looking for a lifetime in Northern Ireland.
And then the centerpiece of our campaign - the podcast activation - saw us ingrain Northern Ireland into one of the UK’s most popular podcasts - Off Menu, with comedians Ed Gamble and James Acaster. With 120 million streams since its 2018 launch, Ed and James natively spoke about their own perspective about traveling to Northern Ireland, sharing our key messages about the nation in an authentic way.
We then incorporated Northern Ireland into another podcast smash hit - Chatabix with renowned comedians, Joe Wilkinson and David Earl. We took over the whole 37-minute episode where they shared information about Northern Ireland with a sense of wanderlust. We even added ‘Northern Ireland special’ into the podcast description, running promotional trailers across a variety of other podcasts to drive reach.
Finally, social posts across Tripadvisor channels stopped people in their tracks and directed them to our Northern Ireland hub.
The final campaign aligned closely with the desires and expectations of our target demographic as it was developed by the experts.
‘Closer than you think’ smashed every objective we set ourselves.
Our paid and native ad campaign delivered a remarkable 4.7 million impressions, leading to 1.3 million video plays.
There were 27,000 unique views of the Northern Ireland hub on Tripadvisor, with an engagement rate of 14.2%,
Paulo’s influencer campaign delivered 145,000 impressions and was engaged with almost 4,000 times - 323% higher than our KPI.
The hero podcast activation was listened to 646,000 times across both activations, equating to 1.45 million minutes of listening time - which is more than 1,000 days!
And the outcome of all of this was a real business impact on the nation of Northern Ireland.
Bookings were 4% above target, and room night bookings were a massive 14% over forecast.
We made people see Northern Ireland in a new light. Simply by convincing them it was closer than they thought.